New amendments to the infrastructure planning and charging provisions of the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (SPA) have been introduced by the Queensland Heritage and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2014 (QHOLA Act), which was passed by Parliament on 29 October 2014 and assented on 7 November 2014.  The amendments clarify a number of issues arising out of the major amendments that were made to the infrastructure provisions of the SPA earlier this year.

In this Alert, Partner David Nicholls and Associate Thomas Buckley outline the key amendments to the SPA.

Key points

  • A local government will be able to issue a new infrastructure charges notice (ICN) for a development in response to a request to change the development approval (a “permissible change request”) for infrastructure contributions that were previously imposed under a planning scheme policy.

  • A local government infrastructure plan (LGIP) is only an optional component of a planning scheme under the SPA. That is, a local government is not bound to adopt an LGIP. However, if a local government has not adopted an LGIP by 1 July 2016, it will be unable to levy infrastructure charges or impose conditions about infrastructure on development in its local government area.

  • Section 635 of the SPA has been amended to clarify that a local government must give an infrastructure charges notice at the same time as, or as soon as practicable after, a development approval is given.

  • In determining whether there has been “additional demand” placed upon trunk infrastructure that will be generated by development, demand may be included where there was an ICN or condition relating to trunk infrastructure for an existing use where the ICN or condition was based upon a lower scale or intensity of development.

  • The scope of information to be provided about an infrastructure offset or refund in an ICN has been broadened to ensure that the applicant is provided with the best available and necessary information about an offset or refund.

  • Local governments will be able to impose conditions for infrastructure which is not adequately addressed in a LGIP only if development infrastructure is consistent with the assumptions stated in an LGIP.

  • In calculating an infrastructure “refund” a local government must refund the applicant the value of infrastructure that is greater than the infrastructure charge levied for the development. Previously, the SPA required a refund of a reasonable apportionment of the cost of the infrastructure by other users.